Saturday, February 23, 2013

Frying Pan Handle Revisited

This frying pan handle couldn't take the heat.

The back story to this is here. I still like the method I used to construct that handle, but it's evidently not suited for application to a frying pan handle; the wood/metal interface is too compact, so the wood is constantly getting charred. The outcome pictured above was inevitable.

I'm going to salvage that wooden handle, but I'll reconstruct it in a different manner. I'll do it in much the same fashion as I made this saucepan handle. The saucepan handle's construction is far superior because the wood/metal interface is relatively large -- more heat will go into the handle, away from the very end of the handle where it attaches to the frying pan. Here's a view of the components I'll be putting together.

The machined brass hose fitting is for 1/2" I.D. hose; the threaded rod is 1/2"-13 x 3" long. I don't have anything suitable on hand to make a ferrule from, so I'll use that 22mm hose clamp for a 'ferrule'. It won't be pretty, but it will do the job.

The hose fitting's bore is just shy of 1/2", so I'll run a tap through it to produce a vestigial female thread for the threaded rod. Here's a view of that operation just completed.

So now, I have the makings of a substantial, heat-sinking wood/metal interface, like so.

Next up is to bore the handle to accept the threaded rod and hose fitting assembly. There'll be four steps to that:

1) Centre drill to establish an initial, shallow pilot hole.

2) Drill a 3/16" pilot hole for the 5/8" spade bit that will bore the clearance for the hose fitting's barbed shank.

3) Drill 5/8" deep enough for the hose fitting.

4) Drill 1/2" deep enough for the threaded rod.

Here's the first step done.

That, and the follow-up 3/16" pilot hole was easy. For the 5/8" bore, I put a hose clamp on the work for reinforcement. Here's the 5/8" bore completed.

And here's the 1/2" bore completed.

And it all fits together.

Now I just have to clean everything, mix up a batch of J-B Weld epoxy and do the final, epoxy-bedded assembly.

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As I was squeezing together the epoxy-slathered components in the vise, I was a little too quick and forceful, and I got a demonstration of hydraulic force at work, like so.

The wood cracked open and left me with a streak of squeeze-out where it wasn't supposed to occur. Fortunately, no real harm has been done there. I'll trim off that squeeze-out, and the flaw will be all but imperceptible. The crack is sealed against water incursion, and it's not extensive enough to be a structural defect.

What I should have done there as I was squeezing the handle parts together was do it very slowly, so the excess epoxy could all escape past the hose fitting in its own sweet time. J-B Weld mixes up into a very thick paste. I tried to rush the stuff, and it won't be rushed. Anyway, lesson learned. (For what it's worth, following is a close-up of the crack after trimming and sanding.)

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A Ferrule

The saucepan handle has been serving as the frying pan's handle for several months now, and it's holding up fine. That handle has a true, encircling ferrule at its end where it attaches to the pan, and it occurs to me that that ferrule may be a key component -- it acts as a 'front line' heat dissipator for the wood. This handle is past the point where I could fit it with a ferrule in exactly the same way, but I can fake it with a split ring of copper pipe; it should at least be better than nothing.

- - -

Here's what I came up with.

That's a 3/4" length of 3/4" thin-walled (Type M) copper pipe. That 22mm hose clamp just manages full worm engagement over the final diameter.

I'll do a final assembly with a smear of J-B Weld under the copper 'ferrule', and I should have a handle that can take the heat. We'll see.

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A Fresh Coat of Tung Oil -- MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2013

Yesterday, I gave the wood a fresh coat of tung oil. I quite like the results I get from tung oil. Here's a view of the handle to date.

The photograph scarcely does the handle justice. The oil finish has a soft clarity to it that enhances the delicate figuring of the hardwood grain beneath. What the photograph can't show is the feel of the thing -- it's smooth but not slippery -- it's exquisite. As frying pan handles go, this is as pretty as they get.

Come the weekend, I'll re-install this handle on the frying pan, and commence observing how well and how long it stands up to its task.

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Finally -- SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2013

There it is re-installed and ready to go. We'll see if this reconstructed handle can take the heat.

Hose fitting threads are a pretty loose fit, so I wrapped eight turns of Teflon tape around the male thread, with the tape overlapping the end of the fitting so it would double as a gasket at the end of the fitting. The head of the hose clamp gave me a nice purchase-point for tightening the thing with Channellocks, without marring the handle at all.

The radial position of the hose clamp's head just happened to turn out as I wanted it -- the head facing down so it's pretty much out of sight. Had it not turned out that way, I could easily have made it so by adjusting the fastening of the female fitting.

That downward sloping attachment of the handle looks a bit odd, but on the stove it's not at all a problem. If anything, it's actually a bit of a safety improvement on the orthodox configuration -- the handle isn't sticking up where it's easily struck inadvertently.

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Update -- FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2014

The revised handle described above has lasted the better part of two years now, but it's looking a bit shabby.

So, I've made a new, more substantial one.

This time, I knew to provide a vent hole for the J-B Weld epoxy to escape from as I pressed the handle's components together. A tiny hole is all that's needed. I used a No. 60 (0.040") drill. After sanding and finishing the handle, the only evidence of the vent hole is a tiny, grey dot, like so.

I've given the handle a single coat of tung oil for a finish. The larger diameter of this handle (1 3/32") feels much better in the hand than the old, 7/8" diameter handle did. We'll see how it holds up.

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